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Oxygen testing, life-saving test and inspection solutions

Gas testing and inspection in the medical industry

Testing the manufacture and quality of gases used across industry is important. But in the medical sector when lives are on the line – or lives are about to start – it’s critical!

You could say that medical gases are a form of medicine. A medicine that is relied upon from the dental chair to the bed of the maternity ward. Anywhere that it’s found, it’s imperative that rigorous quality control of piped oxygen, nitrous oxide, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and medical air is carried out properly and consistently.

Industrial Physics makes highly accurate test and inspection devices to test the purity of every medical gas and for all types of process gas analysis. You can find out more about the products here. But in this blog, we explore the world of medical grade oxygen and the role of the oxygen gas analyzer.

The life giving gas and the oxygen gas analyzer

 Oxygen, the life giving gas, has been relied upon in most healthcare settings for over 100 years. It’s used to treat everything from COPD to cardiac arrest; it can resuscitate lives and support vital signs during life support.

When the stakes are so high, proper medical gas testing procedures are vital.

Organizations that supply medical grade oxygen must adhere to the World Health Organization’s ‘Pharmacopoeial’ standards – created to help ensure the quality and safety of essential medicines. With a combination of analytical methods and appropriate limits for testing the pharmaceutical ingredients and finished products.

Medical grade oxygen must contain not less than (NLT) 99.0% oxygen by volume. While moisture levels must be shown to be under a specified trace amount measured in parts per million (ppm). And that is where the oxygen gas analyzer comes in!

How does an oxygen gas analyzer measure oxygen levels?

The directives of European Pharmacopeia 2.5.27 state that the oxygen content of a gas should be determined using a paramagnetic analyzer. This applied when testing for medical grade oxygen.

If you’re scratching your head now, paramagnetism is a property of magnetism. It refers to materials becoming weakly attracted by an externally applied magnetic field, forming internal or induced magnetic fields in the direction of the magnetic field being applied.

Oxygen molecules have a high paramagnetic sensitivity. They interact with magnetic fields, which the oxygen gas analyzer measures electronically. This is then amplified and converted to a reading of oxygen concentration.

Still scratching? Never mind, the oxygen gas analyzer makes things easy.

The paramagnetic effect of oxygen is linear, so the oxygen gas analyzer must have a suitable range with a readability of 0.1 percent or better. The measurement of oxygen concentration depends on the pressure and temperature.

Industrial Physics oxygen gas analyzers

Many oxygen gas analyzers use electrochemical sensors, also known as fuel cells, to measure the percentage – or trace (ppm) – levels of oxygen in a gas or gas mixture.

These trace amounts are challenging to detect, but fortunately there are lots of different types of highly accurate test and inspection devices out there to help.

The Systech Illinois Paramagnetic Oxygen Gas Analyzer PM700 is perfectly suited for this medical gas analysis application.

The PM700 oxygen gas analyzer gives highly accurate and repeatable results for any of the following types of test:

  • EP monograph of Argon – IDENTIFICATION A. “Verify that the gas is not oxygen using a paramagnetic analyzer (2.5.27).”
  • USP 37 Medical Air (19.5% to 23.5%)
  • USP 37 Oxygen NLT 99.0% by volume
  • Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen (ABO)
  • Breathable Air (BA)
  • Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Type II Grade A
  • CA OSHA 1910.134 CGA Grade D – for SCBA or Airline Respirators

An oxygen gas analyzer for moisture analysis

It’s not just the oxygen content that needs to be monitored. It’s important that medical gas moisture levels are checked and understood too.

Moisture is a tricky molecule to measure and control, given its inherent stickiness and ubiquity in the air. However, companies that supply medical grade gases have to meet stringent quality standards in this area too.

To do this they have to work with an accurate moisture analyzer.  But how does this work? Here’s the technical bit.

The measuring cell consists of a thin film of diphosphorus pentoxide between two coiled platinum wires, which act as electrodes. The water vapor / moisture in the gas sample is absorbed by the diphosphorus pentoxide, creating phosphoric acid – an electrical conductor.

Next up, a continuous voltage is applied across the electrodes, electrolyzing the water and regenerating the diphosphorus pentoxide. The resulting electric current is proportional to the water content. It’s a self-calibrating system as it obeys Faraday’s Law.


Introducing the MM510 – our electrolytic P2O5 moisture analyzer

The MM510 is perfectly suited for this application – it’s the ultimate in moisture detection.

It’s an electrolytic, phosphorous pentoxide (P2O5) moisture analyzer, designed and built with the Pharmacopoeia standards in mind. The moisture content in medical gases can vary wildly and historically it wasn’t an easy task to measure it accurately. Yet the MM510 makes light work of the job – auto-ranging from 0.01 to 1000 ppm and with the option of auto-calibration.

Sounds good? Why not invest in one yourself? Check out our wide selection of oxygen gas analyzers and gas moisture analyzers and get in touch today!

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